After a dream season in Colorado, veteran defenseman Jack Johnson is signing with the Chicago Blackhawks, multiple league sources told The Athletic on Tuesday. The deal is for one year and is expected to be announced by the Blackhawks on Wednesday.
Johnson, 35, He played 74 regular-season games for the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche in 2021-22, scoring one goal and adding eight assists while compiling a plus-5 rating. Johnson’s lone goal was Colorado’s first of the season against his new team, the Blackhawks. Although the base numbers haven’t been high on Johnson over the years, the Avalanche have seen him as a solid option who can kill penalties and provide bottom-pairing minutes. He celebrated his 1,000th career game during the regular season.
Johnson, who was initially out of the lineup during the match, suffered a broken sternum in the second round by Samuel Girard. Johnson has played in Colorado’s last 13 playoff games, averaging just over 11 minutes of ice time and posting a plus-1 rating with zero points. With a star-studded defense, the Avalanche haven’t had to do much more than kill penalties and avoid mistakes in the postseason. Mostly he did that. And he can always say Arturi Lehkonen’s game-winning goal was on the ice in a pivotal Game 6 against Tampa Bay.
Johnson had a career high with the Columbus Blue Jackets, averaging over 23 minutes per game and scoring 40 points in 2014-15, two career highs (42 in 2010-11 with Los Angeles). He started his career with the Kings and after 445 games with Columbus had stops with the Penguins and Rangers. He came to the Avalanche on a professional tryout contract and earned a roster spot in training camp ahead of the 2021-22 season.
The Blackhawks’ rebuild could give Johnson more playing time than the Avalanche. He will join defenseman Seth Jones, who played for Team USA at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, in Columbus and forward Patrick Kane. As the No. 3 pick and someone with Stanley Cup and Olympic experience, his off-ice presence will likely be welcomed in a young Chicago locker room.
“He has a great mind for the game,” Johnson said during Johnson’s 1,000th game officiating. “He was definitely a voice and a defensive guy they looked up to when he played for us in Columbus.”
(Photo: Ron Chenoy / USA Today)